On September 30 at BMO Field, Canada’s 3-1 victory over China was a promising display of what Carolina Morace’s team is capable of executing. The long ball game and rigid player roles of Even Pellerud and Canada’s past were replaced by a free flowing squad who held possession with quick passes and attacked aggressively.
Lining up in a 4-3-3, Canada didn’t hesitate to test China’s backline right from the get-go. Just 6 seconds into the game, forward Josée Bélanger got into the final third to set up Kaylyn Kyle, but Kyle’s chip bounced harmlessly into the box.
In the 2nd minute of play, Bélanger hustled down the right wing again and won a corner kick after the ball deflected off a Chinese defender. Diana Matheson served a high arching ball into the box that Christine Sinclair headed on target, but was cleared out of bounds by #2 Liu Huana on the near post.
Canada’s second ensuing corner kick turned into China’s advantage instead. After pinging around in the air, a heavy touch by Marie-Even Nault allowed China to play a 20 yard through ball to an unmarked #8 Xu Yuan for a breakaway opportunity. The Canadians were caught playing a high defensive line and could only retreat as they watched Karina LeBlanc tip the shot over the bar.
China’s first corner kick of the match in the 4th minute was played short, and Bélanger was there to intercept. It was difficult for China to gain any sort of rhythm with Canada constantly stepping in to challenge their passes. Kyle was a bully in the midfield and had a great sequence early on in the game with about 4 or 5 interceptions in the span of a minute, all on different parts of the pitch.
The Canadian defence had their fair share of interceptions as well. At one point, Candace Chapman stepped high in the midfield to cut off a through ball, and Carmelina Moscato‘s pass sparked an attack with Matheson and Melissa Tancredi playing one touch passes to one another to advance the ball while making good use of space. This was one of Canada’s many attacks throughout the night that displayed the possession-oriented and quick passing style that Morace has been trying to implement since taking over the team in early 2009.